St. John’s Booth at May 13 Craft Fair in Bluffton

The Evangelism Committee of St. John’s UCC sponsored a booth at the Bluffton craft fair on Saturday, May 13.  The booth was very successful in part due to the beautiful weather, and most of the items were given away.

Make-your-own decorative sun visors, stick-on tattoos, and St. John’s pens and bookmarks were distributed to children and their parents who stopped by the booth.

We are looking forward to sponsoring a booth at the craft fair next year.  If you have ideas for give-away items, please let us know.

 

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Well Done, St. John’s UCC, Bluffton!

The United Church of Christ says “Thank You!” to the members of St. John’s UCC for our 2016 contribution of $3,080.00 for Basic Support of Our Church’s Wider Mission:  Changing Lives.

Also, “Thank You!” to the members of St. John’s UCC for being a 5 for 5 Congregation of the United Church of Christ in 2016.  5 for 5 Congregations support Our Church’s Wider Mission Basic Support and the Neighbors in Need, One Great Hour of Sharing, Christmas Fund, and Strengthen the Church Special Mission Offerings of the United Church of Christ.

St. John’s UCC has contributed 87 blankets as part of the special Easter offering.  That totals $870.00 worth of blankets to be distributed world-wide to those in need of shelter and warmth due to natural disasters.

God bless each of you!  Keep up the good work!

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Witness of Love (John 14:15-21) Sixth Sunday of Easter

In our continuing Easter story, Jesus is ready to ascend.  He’s going to finally leave the disciples, but they’re afraid to be without him.  Having Jesus around helps with fear and anxiety and keeps one grounded.  He illustrates moral choices with great stories, and models hospitality and compassion as if it’s the easiest thing in the world.  Also, he can produce lunch for 5,000 at a moment’s notice.  Who wouldn’t whine at the thought of him going away?  The answer to the question, “How will we keep in touch?” is the context for today’s passage from John’s Gospel.

The answer is that the Spirit of God, God’s Holy Spirit, will stick with the disciples.  Indeed will stick so close that the disciples will feel Christ indwelling.  What this means for them is that all the dependence on Jesus won’t be necessary.  Love for Jesus will guide their behavior and his love for them will bring them all close to God.

That’s really the end and beginning of the story.  Jesus comes, he teaches and heals and reveals a world where the divine and the human meet for the good of creation.  Then he leaves.  But his parting gift is to give his disciples the courage and resolve and spiritual depth to take care of themselves and each other.  They really don’t need him anymore. And, they aren’t adrift or orphaned because he is still with them as a part of them.

Our communities, our churches, our country and the globe all long for leaders to make things better.  In our congregational way we say the power is in the people.

If that’s true, and we have our own advocate and inspiration built in as a part of our being, then we have a built-in-guide for how to love this world and choose life.  We are not alone, not ever.  The new Vision Statement of the UCC declares itself a denomination born to inspire individuals to be advocates for our values of radical welcome.  Be the church, never adrift, never orphaned.

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Summer Hours for Sunday School and Worship

Beginning June 4, which is the first Sunday in June, and continuing through September 3, hours for Sunday School and Worship will be at the following times:

Sunday School for Adults–9:00 a.m.

No Children’s Sunday School during the summer

Worship–10:00 a.m.

Please note these times on your calendar so that you will arrive at the beginning of Sunday School and Worship beginning in June.

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Bible Selections to Read to Help Us Cope

Recently one of our parishioners passed away.  Throughout her life’s difficulties she found the following Bible passages to be extremely helpful to her.  She wanted to share them with others.  Listed below are the Biblical texts she chose:

Psalm 27

Psalm 37

Psalm 55

Matthew 5

John 3

Philippians 2:1-11

Psalm 23

1 Peter 1:1-12

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Enduring Witness (John 14:1-14) Fifth Sunday of Easter

“I am the way, the truth and the life.”  No gospel words mean more to us than these.

The Way is a path where we stand, and it is also the direction and manner in which we walk.  If Jesus is the way then we might stop and observe what is under our feet and in what direction we are walking.  Who is on this path with us?  If the way is how we live, then what do we do to live?  How does our work serve the world?  Who are our friends and how do they reflect Jesus in the midst of what we do and where we go, and who is it we love?  If Jesus is the way, where is he on your journey, right now, reading these words?

The Truth has become as malleable as clay depending on who is molding its contours.  Are all truths equal if Jesus is the truth?  We disagree about many things–about how to manage our natural resources, about the role of government about taxes and healthcare…but no all ideas are true and good.  What we believe about the worth and value of others is not open to debate.  The truth is that all beings and all nature in the universe is declared “Good” every day by our still-speaking creator God.  Jesus is the truth of that. He, fully human and fully divine, represents what is true about all of us.  We are beloved and accepted and never to be demeaned.

The Life is what gives breath and pumps air every second.  It is tangible and touchable.  Jesus is life because he breathes with his human lungs in each of us, as close as the sinews that hold our heart in place.

In Barmen, Germany in May, 1934, the German Protestant churches organized to mount a resistance to Hitler.  They produced a document now called the Barmen Declaration.  It begins by stating what it calls its first evangelical truth:  I AM THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE.  John 14:6

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Upcoming Special Events at St. John’s UCC

Larry Kempf and his faithful tractor and wagon will once again this year provide the transportation as St. John’s participates in the Memorial Day Parade Monday, May 29.  If you would like to join the festivities, please catch the wagon on Elm Street by the Town Hall, at 9 a.m.

Community Vacation Bible School will be held at English Lutheran Church from July 16 through July 20.  Registration forms will be available soon.  St. John’s UCC is responsible to furnish “herders” this year.  Please check with Marci Stahl if you are available to help.

Other special events will be posted as they are scheduled.

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Second Sunday Potlucks Resume in September

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Second Sunday Potlucks during the September through April church year.  The fellowship and food  uplifted those of us who attended the luncheons.

Since many of us travel and are otherwise taking part in activities during the summer months, the potlucks will be on hiatus until September.

Special events scheduled for St. John’s through late spring and summer are listed in a separate article.

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Powerful Witness Psalm 23 Fourth Sunday of Easter

If you search the internet looking for UCC churches that have done something with the 23rd Psalm, you will discover St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Seattle, Washington, an Open and Affirming congregation.  A very small church by any measure with only 70 members, their choir sang Bobby McFerrin’s version of the Psalm and they recorded it in worship and posted in on Vimeo.  You would be doing yourself a favor to track down their website and find the video of the anthem; make yourself a cup of tea, get comfortable and be present in prayer with this little church and the singing of this beautiful anthem.  They look like so many of our small churches and they are so mighty, so faithful, and so persistent in their presence.

On their website (www.stpucc.org) you will discover that they had a fire in the beginning of 2016.  You can read the timeline of their rebuilding process and learn about their social action programs–like serving community meals and sponsoring a refugee family from Afghanistan.  Their Mission Statement says:  “At St. Paul’s we are not called to change people; we are called to offer space where growth can take place.”

The 23rd Psalm, an ancient pastoral poem to a God who shepherds us, was written by people who could never imagine Seattle, or an electric piano, or Vimeo, or anything at all about our world except perhaps the closeness of people and the care felt in small communities.  In “church talk,” we sometimes speak of congregations as flocks, and the pastor as the shepherd.  It’s as comforting as the words of the psalm to know and imagine all the little flocks across the country, singing, feeding the homeless and shepherding refugees. They are the goodness and the mercy following us all the days of our lives.

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Student Graduations

If you are a parent or grandparent, you might be anticipating the upcoming graduation of your son, daughter, or grandchild/grandchildren.  St. John’s UCC is interested in publishing a list of students within your families who are graduating this spring.  Please contact the church office to let us know if you have a family member graduating in 2017.

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